CEO departures in the United States matched a seven-month high in August with the health care sector experiencing the heaviest turnover, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. reported Wednesday.

CEO turnover in August jumped to 104 departures, a 20.2% increase from July. That’s the highest one-month total since February, when 104 CEO changes were also recorded.

Last month’s total also matches the number of CEO exits reported in August 2011.

For the year, CEO departures are down 2.5% from the same period in 2011.

Key manufacturing sectors, including computers and automotive, experienced spikes in CEO departures.

The automotive sector recorded a monthly high of seven CEO departures in August, the fifth-highest industry total in August.

Notable departures included Navistar International Corp. (IW 500/86) CEO Daniel Ustian and the retirement of American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. (IW 500/310) CEO Richard Dauch, who stepped down to become chairman.

The computer sector experienced 11 CEO changes in August. The computer industry has the third highest CEO departures total for the year with 81, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported.

The health care sector led all other industries with 161 CEO changes in 2012, including an industry-leading 21 in August. 

The government/non-profit sector followed with 15 CEO changes last month.